Family Law Mediation

MEDIATION

WHAT IS FAMILY LAW MEDIATION?

In Idaho judges in family law disputes involving property division and custody of minor children routinely order family mediation.  Mediation is a process whereby a trained neutral mediator meets with disputing parties and assists the parties in solving their problems and reaching an agreement in family law matters.

WHO IS A FAMILY LAW MEDIATOR AND HOW IS THE MEDIATOR SELECTED?

Mediators are registered professionals with training in family law mediation.  They are found on a list of family law mediators approved by the Supreme Court of Idaho.  A mediator can be selected by the parties themselves or appointed by the judge.

WHY MEDIATE FAMILY LAW CASES?

Parties involved in disputes regarding custody of minor children and/or division of property have essentially two options available to them; either go in front of a judge and let the judge decide in a formal trial what the resolution will be, or agree amongst themselves to some mutually acceptable resolution.  Mediators are trained professionals who can help parties reach their own agreements. Mediation empowers the disputing parties by allowing them to keep control over the resolution and is the only way for either party to have a way of predicting the ultimate outcome.  Letting a judge make that decision always carries with it a great deal of risk given that the judge will have a very limited amount of information about the particulars of your case and the decision reached is unlikely to be the optimum solution for either party.  In other words, you may be stuck with a resolution that you did not expect and had no part in making.  Furthermore, there is little risk in attempting to mediate before litigating the case and letting the judge decide since, if the mediation fails, the judge will be deciding the case anyway.  At any rate, the parties may reach agreement as to some issues thereby narrowing the scope of issues for the judge to decide. Mediation also carries with it a fraction of the cost that a formal trial would cost.

WHAT TYPES OF FAMILY LAW DISPUTES CAN BE MEDIATED?

Any type of a family law dispute can be mediated.

ARE THERE ANY CASES THAT SHOULD NOT BE MEDIATED?

Parties with a history of domestic violence may not be good candidates for mediation.  The abused party may feel intimidated and unable to assert his or her position in the presence of the abuser. Sometimes such cases are mediated in separate sessions where the parties are not present in the same room.  If attempted, mediation in cases involving a history of abuse and domestic violence should always be undertaken with special caution.

HOW ARE FAMILY LAW CASES MEDIATED?

Mediation techniques vary with particular mediators based on their training and personalities.  Mediators themselves do not make any binding decisions on either party. Generally, mediators assist parties in clarifying and narrowing the disputed issues and in finding the common ground for agreement between the differing positions.  If the parties reach an agreement the mediator will usually reduce the agreement to writing and present it to the parties for signing.